Colonisation the process was handled by Britain. It will

  Colonisation was a barbaric act of
inhumanity but counterintuitively, the process of decolonisation was even more
horrific. In the second half of the last century, many nations around the world
gained their independence but in the process these countries were destroyed and
divided and cast into a destructive vortex which persists until this day. This
essay provides an analysis of the decolonisation of India, considering many
different appropriate sources, and in particular how the process was handled by
Britain. It will consider how the masked and destructive aspects of
decolonisation were important factors in enabling imperial powers such as
Britain to continue exploiting their former colonies and to maintain the global
balance of power. This essay will also examine how various nationalist parties
in India evolved through resistance to British colonisation and in the push for
independence.

  The
concept of imperialism has been in evidence throughout the history of human
civilization. It is usually defined as ‘a system or a situation where one
country with superior power used force or influence to rule and exploit another
country’ (Cambridge dictionary, 2017). In the contemporary colonial era, many
European intellectuals and thinkers have sought to justify imperialism. Rudyard
Kipling, for example, in his famous poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’
(Kiplingsociety.co,uk, 2017), reflected the conviction of many Europeans of
their supposed superiority, attached with a duty to spread Western ideas and
knowledge toward non-Western people. They considered non-western peoples to be
primitive barbarians or “Half devil and half-child”, as expressed by Kipling,
who needed guidance to change their way of life.

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  Britain
by virtue of her naval superiority, exceeded her European counterparts in
colonial gains and extended her empire, the largest in the world, over a fifth
of the globe. By 1783, Britain had established an empire which comprised
colonies in Canada, America and the West Indies (bbc.co.uk, 2017). The British
East India Company had built up a small empire of trading posts in India. Due
to the harsh land taxes and the exploitative treatment of rich landowners and
princes supported by the company, an unsuccessful rebellion erupted in 1857
against the company which led the British government to take over the rule of
India from the company. The British forced the reigning princes to pay taxes to
the British Empire for the privilege of continuing their rule over their lands.
India was viewed as the jewel in the crown of the British Empire because of its
wealth and population. Spices, textiles, cotton and opium which Britain wanted
were all available in India. Even the population was capitalised by the British
to form the backbone of their military regiments (bbc.co.uk, 2017).

  There
were overwhelming numbers of Indians accepted to cooperate with the British Raj
especially in the Indian Army which was used to maintain control of India and
defend the empire elsewhere and since the ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857 Muslims were
the core recruits in the army. Hindus were mostly neither recruited nor
permitted to serve. In 1885, the National Congress Party was founded by the
Indian nationalist movement. Initially, it campaigned for a role for Indians
within the administration of India (Wolpert, 2006, P 7). In 1913, the All
Indian Muslim League was founded to represent Muslims in India. The League was
inspired by conservative British officials who feared the Congress Party’s
growing popular opposition (Wolpert, 2006, P 3). Muhammed Ali Jinnah was the
main figure and leader of the League; he joined the Congress Party in 1906 but
seven years later co-founded the Muslim League. Mohandas Ghandi was the main
nationalist leader who influenced the movement for Independence and was the
Congress mentor. His successful campaign against South Africa’s discriminatory
policies gave him an impressive name in nationalist circles. By the time he
returned to India in 1915, he had inspired the national movement to demand
independence rather than home rule and called for an end to India’s strict
caste system (Wolpert, 2006, P 8). Jawaharlal Nehru was the main figure and the
leader of the National Congress Party. Their common characteristic, besides
being leading nationalist figures, was that they were graduate barristers from
London. However, they disagreed on the best tactics to win liberation for
India.

 

  Ironically, as a result of the First World
War, both parties gathered in one platform in 1916 to support the Allied War
efforts in exchange for ‘dominion status’ within the British Commonwealth as a
national goal (Wolpert, 2006, P 2). After the war ended with the Allied
victory, the British instead of rewarding the million valiant Indian soldiers
and granting India the virtual sovereign independence of ‘dominion status’,
Viceroy Lord Chelmsford extended India’s martial law ordinances or the ‘Black
Act’ as Ghandi labelled them (Wolpert, 2006, P 4). Consequently, there was a
rise of nationalism and a strong independence movement between Indians. In
1919, the British Raj government massacred a peaceful gathering at Amritsar.
Then, Ghandi called upon Indians to peacefully refuse to obey British laws. The
British response was to crack down hard on Ghandi’s followers (Wolpert, 2006, P
8).

  With the beginning of WWII, the Muslim League
adopted the ‘Pakistan’ resolution in 1940. The idea of Pakistan grew
intensively because of how the Congress Party treated Muslims especially in
refusing to allow them into coalition provincial governments (Wolpert, 2006, P
77). On February 10th, 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese after
the surrender of British Indian troops. The British government in London feared
losing India if Japan attacked it. Winston Churchill, who hated Indians, sent
Sir Cripps with an offer to win the Indians during the war in promise for
‘dominion status’ (Wolpert, 2006, P 72). The National Congress Party refused
the proposal because they wanted control over defence matters, which was
rejected by the British. Ghandi & the Congress launched ‘Quit India’ campaign
on August 8th, 1942 (Open.ac.uk, 2018). Ghandi and the leaders of
the Congress were arrested the following day, resulting in massive riots across
India. Churchill refused to allow Ghandi to meet with Jinnah or even have any
correspondence between them during war-time (Wolpert, 2006, P 58). 

  In June 1946, the Congress Party adopted a
resolution calling for independence with the establishment of a united
democratic India with a central government. Jinnah was upset with the Congress’
resolution, therefore, he called for a ‘Direct Action Day’ of Muslims organised
by the League in August 1946. Huge religious tensions exploded and led to a
massacre between the Hindus and Muslims (Wolpert, 2006, P 119).

  As an effect of the Second World War, Britain
was bankrupt and fighting colonial independence became too expensive. On
February 20th, 1947, the British prime minister Attlee’s government
issued a statement in London promising to hand over its ‘powers’ and ‘great
responsibilities’ in India, either to one central Indian government or to
provincial governments by no later than June 1948 (Wolpert, 2006 P 129). Lord
Mountbatten – cousin of King George – was appointed as the last Viceroy in
India. Nehru gave negative statements to Mountbatten in their first meetings
about Jinnah and that probably influenced Mountbatten’s decisions in the future
(Wolpert, 2006, P135). Mountbatten led the negotiations between the major
parties –  the Congress Party led by
Nehru wanted a united India with a strong central state and the Muslim League
led by Jinnah wanted a separate Muslim state. Mountbatten decided that
partition was the only way to avoid civil war and would produce less violence.
His proposal was designed to place the responsibility for dividing India on the
Indians themselves but only if the partition and independence could be
organised swiftly. Therefore, he brought the date of British withdrawal forward
to August 1947 (Wolpert, 2006, P 144).

 A British barrister who had never put his feet
before in India, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, was in charge of drawing dividing border
between India and Pakistan. The Partition borders – the maps – which divided
Hindu and Muslim communities on the frontier in half, were not announced until
after independence was granted. After independence, millions of refugees died
during their attempt to migrate to their desired side of the partition.

 Ghandi, who was against partitioning, went on
hunger strike appealing for peace. He was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic who
resented his demand that Muslims should be treated as equals. The Kashmir
problem is not settled to this day and led to many wars between the divided
countries.

   Although, Churchill hated the Indians and
was responsible for the Bengal famine which cost around 2 million lives, he was
right when he described the decolonisation process by the British as a
‘Shameful Flight’ in his opposition speech. Furthermore, the British
decolonisation policy in India was very similar to that in Ireland – the first
and longest British colony in history. Like India, Ireland had many uprisings
through their history but the British response was brutal and independence was
denied repeatedly. The Irish famine in the 1850s was like the Bengal famine in
India in that it was due to ignorant British policies. The British
decolonisation process in Ireland led to a religious partition similar to that
in India.

 

 

  After numerous massacres, severe repression
and twisted promises, Britain left India within the space of six months after
centuries of colonisation. And worse than that, she left after having divided
it at an enormous human cost in the partition process itself.  There is still animosity between India and
Pakistan, both of which are now nuclear powers. Colonising India was an epic
crime, but the leaving of India was surely a greater one, leaving a region
riven with instability and with access to potentially apocalyptic weapons.